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Chronic Pain Treatment

OPeople Frustrated by not having solution to the painften times, getting treatment for chronic pain can be a long journey. There is no single treatment or approach to successfully treating chronic pain any more than there is a standard person with chronic pain. Rather, there are various different types of treatment options. Because chronic pain affects so many people there are many products and services claiming to help people with chronic pain. People with chronic pain spend a lot of money trying to resolve their condition with products or services. Many of these products or services have little or no value or have not been rigorously tested. But there are also credible products, services and self-management techniques that are effective in helping people better cope with chronic pain.

Note: If you are searching for treatments and health information on the internet, we recommend that you select sites that have received certification from  HON Code for a higher level of transparency regarding funders, source of data, currency of data, review process, etc. Our review team where possible relies on data published by credible academic or public institutions. In a few places we selected some non-profit treatment centres. Please visit WWDPI disclaimer page. We strongly recommend that you discuss any health information with your primary care professional.

Treatment Options

The following are treatment options that are proven to be effective in helping people with chronic pain.

Before undertaking any of these treatments, you should talk with your doctor about what options might work well with your existing treatment.

Communicating with Your Doctor

Many people find it hard to talk frankly and openly with their doctors. But doctors aren’t mind readers and speaking up is an essential part of being a responsible patient.  Dr. Donald Cegala at the University of Ohio developed a program called PACE to help patients communicate with their physicians.

PACE stands for:

Presenting Information

The information the patient gives to the doctor about their symptoms, lifestyle, values and family history provide the basis from which doctors must make their diagnosis and recommend treatment options. Before your appointment, prepare to present detailed information to your doctor. Some people find it helpful to write a list of their questions or track their symptoms in a journal..

Asking Questions

Patients typically don't ask their doctors very many questions, even though virtually all patients claim they want as much information as possible. Patients can ask questions, not only to solicit information from their doctor but also to get their doctor to do something for them. For example, a patient may ask "What are the side effects of this medication?" or they may ask " Could you refer me to a specialist?"

Checking Information

It is important that patients verify the information their doctors give them. They can do this by asking for clarification (e.g. Did you mean I should take only half a tablet a day?), by requests for repetition of information (e.g. Please tell me the name of that test again), or by summarizing what the doctor has said.​

Expressing Concerns

Sometimes patients may have concerns or fears about a particular treatment. It is important that patients be honest with their doctor about any concerns they have. With any condition there are usually many different treatment options. By expressing your concerns you can works with your doctor to find the treatment that best meets your needs.

Related WWDPI Webinars


Communication ToolsAmerican Chronic Pain Association
One Simple Solution for Medication SafetyInstitute for Safe Medication Practices Canada
Patient & Community Voices in Health Professional EducationPatient & Community Partnership for Education in the Office of the Vice-Provost Health
at the University of British Columbia
Patient & Community Voices Workshop SeriesPatient & Community Partnership for Education - UBC
Sign up to receive the University of British Columbia’s Patient and Community Voices NewsletterUniversity of British Columbia’s Patient and Community Voices Newsletter
Talking With Your Doctor... and other Healthcare ProfessionalsPatient and Community Partnership for Education | UBC Health
Tips to Communicate with DoctorsNational Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
University of British Columbia, UBC Health, Patient & Community Partnership for EducationUniversity of British Columbia, Division of Health Care, Communication
Video - University of British Columbia’s Patient and Community Voices in Health Professional EducationUniversity of British Columbia

Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy 

PhysiotherapyChronic pain treatment may include seeing a physical therapist, which has many benefits. Physical therapy can help relieve chronic pain and stiffness. A physical therapist can increase confidence with exercise, help relax tense muscles and teach you more about your body and movement. Similarly, occupational therapists teach you how to reduce strain on your joints during daily activities while maintaining physical fitness. They will show you how to improve your home and work environments to reduce motions that may aggravate your pain. They also may recommend aid devices for daily activities.


Massage Therapy  

Registered massage therapists are trained in the assessment of soft tissue and joints of the body, and the treatment and prevention of injury, pain and physical disorders.



There is a range of over the counter and prescription medications used for treating chronic pain. It is best to check with your physician as to what is best for you.


Physical Activity   

Physical activity helps improve physical and mental health. It also plays a vital role in the managing you chronic pain. If approached properly, physical activity helps reduce stiffness and pain, increase energy and stamina, improve sleep quality and promote weight loss and long-term weight management.

It’s important to consult your doctor or physical therapist about a routine that is moderate and will strengthen the appropriate muscles in your body. There are many fitness centres and organizations that have exercise programs which target people with arthritis and fibromyalgia. You can also find more information on simple steps to incorporate physical activity into your everyday life.


Exercise and ArthritisUniversity of Washington
Physical Activity and Chronic DiseaseWork Wellness and Disability Prevention Institute
Research Reviews on Exercise for Musculoskeletal ConditionsCochrane Library

Moving toward Self-Management

Living with chronic pain can be challenging. Health professionals and researchers have found that self-care and life skills play vital roles in a person's pain and fatigue management. Taking action to improve physical fitness, reduce stress and improve sleep quality can contribute to the successful management of your condition and can reduce your pain levels. Self-management can give you more control ov​er your life         

​Reviewed by Marc White PhD, Scientific & Executive Director, WWDPI (See WWDPI Disclaimer and Review Criteria)​

Last Modified: 6/15/2018 4:21 PM